Today we continue our series of looking at the evidence of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ by looking at Gethsemane.
Many years ago I had the privilege of going to Israel and exploring many of the places Jesus went according to the Bible. Some you could definitely say Jesus would have been there, others not so. For instance, we do not know exactly what tree Zacchaeus climbed up to see Jesus or the very spot where Jesus was born. There are though places we know Jesus would have been there.
We need to keep in mind it is over 2,000 years since Jesus was on planet earth. Places change and therefore the more we discover about the past, the more proof I believe we will find that the Biblical account of Jesus is true. That then poses the question what will we do with Jesus?
Let us continue our journey of discovery.
The Biblical account tells us that Jesus and his disciples went to a place called Gethsemane. The word Gethsemane means “oil press.” Many oil presses were in caves. The temperature in caves allowed for better olive oil production. Caves also provided great natural protection from the elements.
There is only one cave in the area where people have said for 2,000 years Jesus prayed on that evening before He was arrested. The cave of Gethsemane is large.
Excavations in 1956-1957 revealed the mouth of the cave was over 16 feet wide. They also found evidence that as many as three olive presses were operating inside the cave.
We also know from the Bible that it was a cold night when Jesus prayed at Gethsemane. Mark 14 and John 18 inform us that Peter was warming himself next to a fire that night. Why is this important? The answer is because the Bible tells us that the disciples lay down while Jesus went to pray.
It has been suggested they did not lay down to sleep out in the open under the stars on that night as it gets pretty cold at night in Jerusalem trust me, coupled with a heavy dew. Therefore Jesus and the disciples laying down to rest inside the cave of Gethsemane is one suggestion. We need to remind ourselves again that we are looking at an incident of over two thousand years and the exact location to the actual place in the garden where Jesus went cannot be substantiated. Jesus did not carve His name on a tree as many people have done as a signature to say He was there.
Next to the cave, however, the garden of Gethsemane has been growing olive trees for as long as anyone can remember. Some of the trees in the garden today are among the oldest living things on planet earth. Many of the trees are hollow so they are unable to date reliably the older core of the tree, but they still date to well over a thousand years old!
I have stood in that garden, and I would not say for sure I stood at the very spot Jesus knelt down and prayed but I am persuaded that it was the garden He visited the night He was betrayed. For me, it is just one more part of the jigsaw puzzle surrounding Jesus’ last week that makes me believe in the Biblical account and more importantly it gives me the faith to put my trust in Jesus.
Stay safe and blessed